24 June 2006 (V.S. 2062, Jeth vad 14) Saturday, Amdavad; Youth Day
A special Youth Day assembly was arranged for youths residing in Amdavad, Gandhinagar and Mahesana. In all, 4,500 youths had assembled. The assembly commenced with dhun, prayer and bhajans by youths. The theme of the assembly was, “Tamara Hriday Akashma Pankhi Bani Udiya Karu”. An interview was arranged with Ishwarcharan Swami and Viveksagar Swami who elaborated upon the youth training given by Yogiji Maharaj and their experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Swamishri arrived at 11.00 am. The stage backdrop had a giant heart with a bird in a flying pose. Swamishri was welcomed by youths, dressed in white, dancing to the theme song. Several youths who had been observing various satsang niyams received Swamishri’s blessings. Thereafter a wonderful dialogue took place in a skit format. Swamishri gave guidance to youth-related issues like fashion, eating out and marriage. The assembly concluded with the singing of “Re Sagapan Harivarnu Sachu” by the youths.
27 June 2006 (V.S. 2062, Ashadh sud 2) Tuesday, Amdavad; Rath Yatra
Every year the city of Amdavad celebrates the popular festival of Rath Yatra with pomp and joy. The murtis of Bhagwan Shri Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra are ceremoniously carried in floats from the Jagannath Mandir through the streets of Amdavad all day.
The Rath Yatra festival was also celebrated by Swamishri at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Amdavad. Swamishri arrived for Thakorji’s darshan at 7.20 am. A golf cart was transformed into a decorated rath. Swamishri performed pujan of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj and Bhagwan Jagannath. Thereafter Swamishri sat in the rath and performed five pradakshinas of the mandir. In the lead were dancing children dressed in traditional clothes. Then sadhus followed, singing bhajans and charging the air with devotion and festivity. Behind Swamishri’s rath were many leading devotees. And all around the festive path thousands of devotees were singing and joyfully absorbing the festive darshan.
In conclusion, Swamishri’s chariot was steered into the main auditorium. The singing and dancing by children and youths made the occasion devotional and divine. Swamishri was seated with folded hands, blessing the devotees as the rath proceeded towards the stage.
During Swamishri’s puja sadhus sang bhajans on the rath yatra festival. Thereafter Swamishri performed pujan and arti of Maharaj’s murti. In the evening assembly Swamishri steered Shri Harikrishna Maharaj on a small rath with a remote control console. Thereafter in his blessings he said, “Man loves festivals. Shriji Maharaj celebrated festivals. Though he was God, he celebrated Janmashtmi, Ram Navmi, Rath Yatra and other festivals. He added the elements of spiritual discourses and bhajans so that one could strike a rapport with God. Maharaj reformed the prevailing gatherings into festivals of devotion, worship and wisdom.”
28 June 2006 (V.S. 2062, Ashadh sud 3) Wednesday, Amdavad; Opening of Shri Swaminarayan Vidyamandir, Raisan
Today, Swamishri was schedlued to inaugurate another BAPS school in Raisan, near Amdavad, in the presence of the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendrabhai Modi, Shri Y.S. Rajan (representing President Abdul Kalam), and ministers of the government of Gujarat.
Swamishri arrived at 9.00 am and presided over the inaugural assembly. Viveksagar Swami spoke about the educational activities of BAPS. Thereafter the chief guest and dignitaries were garlanded and honoured. Ishwarcharan Swami addressed the assembly about the importance of value-based education. Thereafter Shri Y.S. Rajan spoke to the audience and read out a message by the President of India, “Courage. Courage to think different, courage to invent, courage to discover the impossible, courage to combat the problems and succeed, are the unique qualities of youth. I, the youth of my nation, will work and work with courage for the prosperity of my nation.”
The Chief Minister said in his address, “Through Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s inspiration there has been an immense change in the spiritual realm. There is a general mentality that whatever we as Indians have achieved in our society is worthless. We ourselves believe that anything that (is Indian) is of low grade. Our tradition of sadhus and rishis is wonderful. In Kutch and Saurashtra you will find alms houses along the way giving free food to travellers. This is our culture. I believe that because of two things the 21st century belongs to India: firstly, we have the largest population of youths in the world. One can imagine what future we have with such a substantial youth power. And secondly, the 21st century is the age of knowledge. India has always been a leader in knowledge.”
Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly, “Our country, society and religious organizations have put in a lot of effort in moulding and educating our children. We must always remember our heritage and preserve our values. Today our children do not have the knowledge of the Mahabharat, Ramayan, Gita, Bhagvat and Vedas. Spirituality is our true wealth. Serving others is our wealth. Through our shastras and holy sadhus we are inspired with pride for our country, society, and religion. Such knowledge should be given from a young age. When such values are imparted from a young age the child develops properly.
“Attaining degrees from colleges is apara vidya. Through this the nation progresses. Para vidya is the root and with it one can properly apply the knowledge of apara vidya. Para vidya means knowledge of atma and Paramatma. With more faith in dharma and God, and good character in life, the more progress we will have in life. When one endeavours in bettering one’s village, society, country and dharma then one has to face many obstacles; but with faith in God one can accomplish the tasks.”
Thereafter Swamishri and the Chief Minister performed the inaugural rituals of the school’s primary section amidst Vedic chantings. Swamishri sanctified the classrooms and blessed the students by showering flowers. The school has commenced in the new academic year with KG 1, KG 2 and standards one to four classes. Gradually the school will also teach secondary students till grade 12.